What the aquafaba?

16 July, 2020

How a tin of chickpeas can unlock the world of egg-free, vegan baking

A tin of chickpeas is a kitchen staple for many of us. Whether it’s adding a bit of protein to a roasted vegetable salad, bulking out stews, or blending up a batch of hummus, it’s a versatile pantry basic.

But did you know that you can actually use the liquid in the tin that most people drain away? Discovering that aquafaba, or bean liquid, from a tin of chickpeas is the key to unlocking a world of vegan baking has been a revelation. Aquafaba is a particularly great substitute for egg white. It can whip to a stiff and fluffy foam which means it’s perfect for making meringues and macaroons, which many other egg substitutes can’t deliver.

How to use aquafaba

While it is possible to use the liquid from cooking your own dried and soaked chickpeas, it’s generally easier to start from a tin of chickpeas. Just drain the chickpeas and save the liquid to get started. You can use the liquid from other legumes too like lentils and other beans, but chickpeas are generally the most commonly used option.

For most baking purposes, for example making meringues or macaroons, aquafaba will need to be whipped into stiff peaks. You could work on those arm muscles and whisk by hand, but be warned that it will be hard work! A much better idea is to use a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer. It will still take 3-6 minutes to get to semi-firm peaks. Minimalist Baker recommends adding a pinch of cream of tartar to help the aquafaba whip faster and achieve firmer peaks.

More than meringues

As well as baking and sweet treats, aquafaba can also be used to make vegan mayo. You can use it in a batter for crispy vegetable tempura. Make Yorkshire puddings with no egg to go with your vegan roast. Try experimenting with aquafaba to vegan-ify cocktails that use egg white, like gin fizzes and pisco sours.

Other egg replacers

Of course, aquafaba isn’t the only egg substitute you can use in your baking. Not all of them are going to be suitable for creating light and fluffy vegan meringues, but other egg replacers (each amount is to replace one egg) include:

  • 1 tablespoon of ground chia or flaxseeds whisked with 3 tablespoons of water until fully absorbed
  •  ¼ cup (65 grams) of applesauce, mashed banana, pureed pumpkin or avocado
  •  ¼ cup (60 grams) of silken tofu (excellent for cheesecakes)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 1 tablespoon of vinegar (best for cakes, cupcakes and quick breads)
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